Local artist creates zine to document Quonset hut history

Staff photo

A local artist is collecting stories, images, and artwork to document the long history of DIY culture that has existed in the Quonset hut buildings on Center Street.

Helen Maringer, who has made several zines to commemorate art shows and events at Backspace and other venues that have set up at the Quonset huts over the years, is working on a ‘Goodbye Alley Zine’ to distribute at the a series of celebration events set for this weekend.

The buildings, along with others in the area, are set to soon be demolished to make way for a planned student housing development.

Maringer attended their first event in the Quonset hut buildings nearly a decade ago.

“I first visited the Alley in 2015 at the Grotesque Halloween show at Backspace,” Maringer said. “I started organizing some art events there in 2016, which is how I met Samantha Sigmon who started Backspace. We put on quite a few art events together, and I made accompanying zines for many of them. I can’t tell you how many people said it was their first time getting art on a wall or having their work in print. After going to art school, it felt so refreshing to have a space that wasn’t about marketability, but instead about experimentation and community.”

Over the last several weeks, more than 90 people have contributed materials for the zine. Maringer realized in the process of collecting all the memories that the the DIY culture of the building goes back well before her memories of the space.

“Through putting this zine together, I’ve learned how that spirit existed in the Alley long before Backspace and continued on after it closed in 2021,” Maringer said. “I still frequent the Alley, usually to stop by AM/PM, chat with the Yarb sisters or go to a Pride dinner at Cocoon Collective. I’ve met so many friends there, I honestly don’t think my life would look the same of the Alley hadn’t existed.”

The Goodbye Alley Zine will include memories, poems, artwork, photos, interviews, and more.

“My initial goal was to have a document that recorded a general history of the buildings and what occupied them, plus first hand experiences and memories,” Maringer said. “I was surprised how many interviews I collected, but I’m so glad, there were some really powerful ideas captured there. I’m still working on the layout, but it’s around 200 pages. Working on the zine been a really transformative process. I’ve felt a lot of grief but a lot of hope too.”

Maringer plans to sell the zine for around $15. It will be available at the Goodbye Alley party on Friday and Saturday, April 5-6 at several spaces in the building.

The first night of the celebration will include performances by Dylan Earl, Devin Champlin, Kelly Hunt, Desiree Cannon, and Jude Brothers along with food from Buxton’s Heady Smoke and “herby magic” from Yarb Apothecary on Friday, April 5. Admission is $10-$25 (on a sliding scale, they said) on a first-come, first served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the music begins at 7 p.m.

The second day on April 6 will include a full day of performances beginning at 11 a.m., headlined by local bands Jess Harp, Gardensnakes, and The Phlegms. It will also include a vendor fair, food, drinks, and more. Admission to the second-day event is $15-$25. A full list of vendors is available here, and the full schedule of performances for the day is here.

After that, it will be available online at shirepost.com, and likely at Pearl’s Books and other local bookstores around town, Maringer said.